- Liverpool’s Sadio Mane started on the bench for Senegal on Thursday
- Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi started for Nigeria as the sides clashed at The Hive
- Kelechi Iheanacho missed a chance from four yards out before half-time
- Moussa Sow opened the scoring for Senegal before Kelechi Iheanacho equalised
At the final whistle, almost all of the 2,013 fans at Barnet’s Hive stadium charged onto the field.
They weren’t celebrating the result – a drab draw played out with some commitment, but little quality – but simply the bizarre fact of the occasion. International football at Barnet.
Most of the fans – some of whom were young, but many old enough that they might have known better – headed in search of Sadio Mane, who had come off the bench to a rapturous ovation on the hour.
Nigeria’s stars line up ahead of the friendly match against Senegal on Thursday night
The Senegal players pose for their team photograph before the international friendly
Everton’s Idrissa Gana Gueye battles through the supporters after a full-time pitch invasion
Fans go on the pitch to have their photo with Cheikhou Kouyate of Senegal after the match
Nigeria: Akpeyi; Omeruo, Ekong, Balogun, Echiejile; Musa (Kayode 75), ONazi (Ogu 24), Ndidi, Moses (Success 60); Iwobi (Oghenekaro 60); Iheanacho
Subs: Kayode, Abdullahi, Ogu, Awaziem, Ebuehi, Ezenwa
Booked: Echiejile, Balogun
Goal: Iheanacho (pen)
Senegal: Ndiaye; Wague, Kouyate, Koulibaly, A Mbengue (C Mbengue 74); Sane; Diouf, Ndoye, Gueye, Nguette (Mane 64); Sow (Diedhiou 68)
Subs: Diallo, C Mbengue, Ndiaye, Toure, Ciss, Gassama, Saivet,
Ref: Anthony Taylor
He, like Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa and a host of other Premier League stars, seemed to be enjoying the impromptu invasion, but, if truth be told, it masked a fairly poor spectacle.
The attendance wasn’t as poor as some at the club feared earlier in the week, with most fans turning up on the night and queuing to get in until well after kick off, but it was still less than half as many as came here to watch Barnet play Portsmouth earlier in the season.
Those who did brave a freezing night in north west London – and it was an odd collection, with a large group of Nigerian supporters on one side of the stadium, and mostly younger fans screaming for Mane’s introduction on the other – were rewarded with football that would scarcely have looked out of place in League Two, though a second-half goal apiece did give them something to shout about.
Both teams observed a minute’s silence to remember those who died in London on Wednesday
Mane stops with supporters to have a selfie ahead of the match at League Two Barnet
Moussa Sow scores Senegal’s only goal of the night after some bad defending from Nigeria
Senegal bossed the midfield, Idrissa Gueye, as ever, presiding over it all with calm and quality, but Moussa Sow up front is far less mobile than Mane, and looked very ordinary until Daniel Akpeyi dropped a 53rd-minute corner into his path for the opener.
Nigeria, who didn’t qualify for AFCON 2017, have a theoretically exciting attacking core, but neither Leicester’s Musa nor Arsenal’s Iwobi are in form – as for Kelechi Iheanacho, he can barely get a game for Manchester City. Of the Premier League contingent only Wilfred Ndidi showed himself in a good light.
Iwobi was particularly erratic, hooked on the hour after a performance notable far more for its errors than any incision in the No 10 role.
Iheanacho raises his hand in salute to the fans in Barnet’s Main Stand after scoring a penalty
Senegal’s Cheikh Ndoye (left) and Nigeria’s Ogenyi Onazi battle for possession
Iheanacho did get two glorious chances to score, scuffing a shot across the goal from 18 yards, and then somehow prodding wide from point blank range. If Pep Guardiola was watching, this would not have impressed him.
The City starlet managed to redeem himself with 10 minutes to go, gliding onto a through ball and brought down by Pape Ndiaye, before getting up to convert the penalty and equalize. It was probably deserved, if only for Iheanacho’s persistent running.
He might even have won it with a snapshot wide in stoppage time, but neither side really did enough to win the game, or to entertain the sparse crowd – at least until the final whistle, at which point it became clear that the real buzz around the Hive was at the chance to get a selfie with the stars.
Onazi was later taken off the pitch at after sustaining an injury during the first half
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse and Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr speak before Thursday’s game
Source: The Nigerian Voice (sport)